Ask The Experts: Marathon Training with Paul Evans

Paul was a finalist in the 10,000m in both the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 and Atlanta Olympics in 1996. He then went on to win the Chicago Marathon in 1996 with a career best of 2:08:51 - a time that, to this day, consolidates his place in the UK Marathon All Time Top 4.

Paul is a UKA Level 4 Performance Coach and now works as an Athletics Development Officer for Active Norfolk. This Spring, he joins us as one of our Lucozade Sport Super Six mentors, working with Christina and Lucy as they look ahead to the Virgin London Marathon on April 25.

Read the whole forum debate


Q. I'm currently training for my first marathon but my schedule doesn't include any speedwork. Would there be any benefit in including some speedwork six weeks before race day? Wobbled

A. I wouldn't get too bogged down with speedwork for your first marathon. Your key session is your long run (time spent on your feet). As long as you are increasing this week on week, you will find that as you get fitter your speed will improve anyway.

Q. How do I work out my marathon pace? Is my long run pace a good predictor of what pace I'm capable of in a marathon? mitiog

A. Try using the RW Calculator to find out your target race pace - remember if you undercook the first half you can always pull it back in the second half.

Q. What sort of pace do you advise running the long runs? Do you think there should be some marathon-pace within this session? Justbackfromarun

A. Your long runs are mainly about time on your feet. If you can hit marathon pace for the second half then great, but take care not to overdo it - remember you have to train again later in the week.

Q. Can you do any specific training to help you run quicker for the second half of the race? Flat Footed

A. Try practising on your weekly long run. For example, if you intend to run for three hours, head out for 90 minutes, turn, restart your watch and try to get back to the start quicker. Tactics like this might help with the boredom of the long run too!

Q. How do you keep pushing yourself in a race when your mind is telling you to slow down or even stop? knight rider

A. The marathon is 75 per cent psychological, 25 per cent physical. Try breaking the Virgin London Marathon course into four sections:

  • the start to Cutty Sark: the settling-in stage
  • Cutty Sark to Tower Bridge: looking ahead to halfway and taking care to undercook rather than overcook
  • Tower Bridge to Canary Wharf: time to concentrate - you're heading away from the finish now and the crowds can seem quieter
  • Canary Wharf to the finish: you'll be feeling tired but on the home straight, the crowds will pull you through.

Q. My marathon-pace run felt like a 7 or 8 on the scale of perceived effort this week. Is that normal? TrickyM

A. It will feel like a 7 or 8 as you're running on tired legs at the minute. On race day, you'll be well rested so your marathon pace should feel closer to a 6. My tip would be to write your 5K splits on your arm - beware, Miles 2 and 3 are slightly downhill but if you hit the Cutty Sark on time, you'll be well on target.


Don't miss our next live lunchtime debate - on April 1, Nick Morgan (Lead Sport Scientist at Lucozade Sport) will be online between 1pm and 2pm to answer any nutrition or hydration questions you might have before the big day. Pop the date in your diary now!